Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Home-Made Spinach Pasta (makes about 2 pounds)



Eating alone does not mean having to eat frozen dinners or take-out, at least not for me.  My husband is out of town and I am inspired to make pasta while listening to Vietnamese music!  Recently I saw two places that displayed their colorful pasta, reminding me to make some myself.  Making your own pasta is simple, cheap and delicious!  If you are on a food budget then this is a very inexpensive way to feed yourself and your loved ones.  Besides, this spinach pasta is so pretty making your next meal more exciting to eat!

Ingredients:

6-oz spinach, stems removed, washed well, sliced thinly or chopped finely
3 1/4 C all-purpose flour (plus about 1/4 C more for kneading and dusting)
5 large eggs, room temperature

Method:

1) Cook the spinach in about a cup gently boiling water for about 2 minutes, stir until all the greens are just wilted.
2) Remove from heat, drain, and let spinach cool naturally.  Once cooled squeeze as much water out with your hands and set aside.
3) Pour the flour in the work area.  Make a well in the center and add all the egg yolks and white in the center of the well.
4) Stir the eggs with a fork and then slowly incorporate the eggs into the flour. Then with your hand (s) mix until the eggs are well blended into the flour.  Add the spinach.  Knead with your palm (s) until everything is well blended (about 8-10 minutes).  May add more flour for dusting and kneading. Wrap the dough loosely or put it in a plastic bag and let it rest about 30 minutes to 1 hour before using.  The dough may be kept overnight in the refrigerator; before using let the dough return to room temperature.
5) Cut the dough into manageable pieces (about 6 to 8).  Keep one dough out to work and the rest in a bag, plastic wrap or container to prevent them from drying out.
6) Take one piece of dough, sprinkle with flour as needed, roll it into a log shape, and flatten it slightly with a rolling pin or your palm.  Then feed the dough (using the widest setting on the pasta machine) through a few times.  Sprinkle more flour if needed.  After this, run it through a thinner setting 2-3 times.  Sprinkle some extra flour and pat the pasta sheet down.
7) Run the final sheet of pasta to the desired final cut or fold the pasta sheet and cut with a knife.  Separate each strip individually by hand, dust with a little flour and store them in a container with a cover.
8) Once all the cutting is complete either cook the pasta in gently boiling water for about 2-5 minutes (depending on the thickness of your pasta) or keep them in a sealed container in the refrigerator to be used later.

blanched and squeezed spinach
loosely wrapped pasta, let it rest
30 minutes to 1 hour before using
hand cut pasta to desire shape and size
*The humidity level is extremely low where I am and I did not have to add much more flour during the pasta making process. 
*If the dough has been kept in the refrigerator overnight.  The next day take the dough out and let it return to room temperature before manipulating it.  The dough may be a little damp once removed.  If this happens to your dough, sprinkle a little flour to make it less sticky and damp.  
*What I find is that this recipe is best eaten fresh.  Once completed the pasta may be kept in the refrigerator for up to a week in a tightly sealed container.  I noticed the completely dried pasta strands do not taste as good but tend to break easily during cooking.  
*Many cookbooks will tell you to cook the pasta in salted water and some will instruct you to add both salt and oil.  I can safely say it is ok to cook without either one or both.  I prefer not to cook the pasta with the extra salt.  What I do add is a drizzle of olive oil after the pasta has been drained, give it a little toss to prevent the pasta from clumping or sticking together.
*If you do not have a pasta machine you can roll the dough out with a rolling pin and use a knife to cut the pasta to the desired shape.  The machine makes the job much easier and faster.  However, hand cut the pasta will make it more interesting looking.  I have made the pasta using machine cut and hand cut.  I prefer the hand cut.
*If you want to have greener pasta (see below) then use 8 ounces finely sliced spinach, 3 cups flour and 3 eggs.  The dough will be a bit difficult to work with but the result will be very green and as tasty.
*Even though the spinach may say "pre-washed" I prefer to wash my spinach a few more times before using.  Discard any bruised leaves.  
*If you are short on time as many of us are these days you can buy fresh pasta in a market.  However, I think they are a bit pricey.  Recently I saw fresh pasta priced at $6.49 per pound at a neighborhood market.   With that price I can purchase 2 dozen eggs and 5-pound bag of flour.

my pasta machine
(I think this gadget costs
about $20 or 30 USD)
pasta sheet speckled with spinach
*After passing the sheet through the pasta machine it looks a little "frayed" (see above photo) so I sprinkled a little flour and patted the "frayed" area down with my palm to smooth it out.  I only noticed this fraying look with the spinach pasta. This does not seem to happen with just flour and egg pasta.

grilled camel steak with
home-made spinach pasta
and sauteed vegetables
braised rabbit  and peanuts in olive oil and white wine
with home-made spinach pasta and
5-minute sauteed asparagus and baby bellas

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